May the soul of my classmate, friend, brother and my family’s ‘BIG Daddy’, the quadruple chief, find eternal rest, as we commiserate with his family, friends and the Olomu-in-council, as well as the Omu aran community over the loss of their illustrious son, Eesa Adebayo.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.’ – Johann W. van Goethe.
German literary father figure of the modern era, Goethe, aptly describes the person and life of Eesa Olaniyi Jide Adebayo (1955-2021), a distinguished journalist, who was a former acting Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Eesa Adebayo, aka Mr Jide Adebayo, who died on Thursday, November 4, 2021, in a Lagos hospital, aged 66, was a role model in his career, a cynosure in his community, and a proud stickler for traditions. Above all, he was a man of peace, a people’s person, a doting father, and a loving husband. He was well respected by peers for his top-notch intelligence and oracular wisdom. Eesa Adebayo had no airs when it came to relating with people of all backgrounds, classes and creeds; he was always at home with the high and the lowly.
And the late Adebayo was a good man. Dennis Prager, the syndicated American radio host, intones that “Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like”, emphasising, however, that in “more than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.” Without doubt, Adebayo epitomises all these qualities. But what stood him out from the pack during his six decades on earth was his uncanny habit of paying close attention to the needs of others and meeting them without prompting. This, he did, oftentimes, at his own expense.
Adebayo’s good character, amiable personality, friendly disposition is attested to by many of his colleagues in NAN, with who he worked, mixed and mingled for 35 years of his journalism career. Read some excerpts from their comments on hearing about his passing:
According to Mrs Kate Popoola, who worked with Eesa Adebayo for more than 20 years and ended up as his deputy, Mr Adebayo’s most evident virtue was humility. He was more like an elder sibling than a boss, accessible to cleaners and messengers, as he was to colleagues and others. Mr Francis Nwosu, the current Executive Secretary, Nigerian Press Council, who gave the deceased the sobriquet, ‘D’Crown Prince’ in NAN, bemoaned his death as the loss of a brother and a confidant, while his senior colleague, Dr Bisi Olawunmi described him as a ‘quintessential, dignified gentleman, who was always respectful.’
To the trio of Mr Buki Ponle, now Managing Director of NAN; Mr Paul Ejime, veteran war correspondent and public affairs analyst; and Mr Segun Adeyemi, a special assistant to the President in the office of the minister of Information and Culture, Adebayo was an open book, down-to-earth, with “no airs, no anger, no over expectation from anybody, just a constant show of unalloyed love to all.”
And in his community of Omu aran in Kwara State, it would not be an exaggeration to state that the late Adebayo was a critical beat of the soul of the locale. Throughout his life, Eesa Adebayo gave his time, talent and treasure to the progress and development of his hometown. He was a bridge between the traditional and the modern, a man who cherished the vestiges of the cultural past and carried them with gusto and swagger. The late Eesa was a ‘sought out’ in Omu aran and its environs. He mingled freely and equally with the elite and the downtrodden.
No wonder, the community beckoned to him to lead them as its sixth Eesa, the second in command to the traditional ruler, during a difficult time of interregnum. He was installed the Eesa on May 11, 2018, following the transition of the then reigning Olomu, Oba Oladele Ibitoye on November 30, 2017. Eesa Adebayo effectively and creditably acted as both the de jure and de facto ruler of the sprawling town until the successful enthronement of the current Olomu, Oba Abdulraheem Adeoti on September 22, 2018.
Eesa Adebayo was also a great man of tradition, who gleefully regaled you with the ancient rites, rituals and anecdotes of his Igbomina Yoruba sub-nationality. He had an uncommon gift of reliving historical episodes and cultural events with the precise retentive memory of a griot. He was also a modernist, an enlightenment apostle, who dexterously navigated the crevices of the binary of ancient beliefs and contemporary religious creeds without breaches, abominations or heresy.
In acknowledging his immense contribution to community service and culture, near and far, he was handsomely rewarded with several chieftaincy titles of Otun Gbobaniyi of Omu aran (2003), Otun Gbadero of Ollaland (2011), and Maiyegun of Ogidi Ijumu (2014) in Kogi State. And then came the crown jewel of it all, Eesa Omu aran (2018), a title akin to a prime minister of the town in modern connotation.
In spite of all the recognition and accolades, Eesa Adebayo was at home as patron of many grassroots organisations, a position he used to empower their members. For example, he was patron to the Nigeria Welders’ Association, Omu aran branch; the second ECWA Church choir; Omu aran Elite Ladies’ Club; and Omu aran Hairdressers’ Association; as well as a member of Omu aran Social club, of which he was once its President. Indeed, if Omu aran were to be an engine room, the late Adebayo would have been its dynamo.
Not unexpectedly, news of his demise was met by a tidal wave of a mourning and wailing community crowd, as his remains was brought home on Saturday, November 6, for a special church service and interment. Community leaders who paid tributes and poured encomiums on him, apart from the traditional chiefs, included the President of Omu aran Development Association, retired General Yemi Abidoye, a close friend of the deceased, who described him as a fine journalist and a community leader per excellence, adding that, “he was a promoter of peace, an unbiased, honest and God-fearing leader.” Mr Funsho Salawu, a classmate and a long-time friend of the late Adebayo said at service that the community “has lost somebody who is difficult to replace,” noting that the “volume of condolences since his demise is extraordinary and unprecedented.”
As the people of Omu aran bade farewell to their revered son on November 6, 2021 in a blaze of glory, it is worth stating that the late Eesa was also a colossus in his chosen journalism career. For a mention, he was the first executive director, marketing in NAN, a Sports Editor of repute, who covered international sporting events in France, Saudi Arabia, and so on. He was also a recipient of the prestigious Fellowship of the Nigeria Guild of Editors award, a recognition of his outstanding contribution to journalism by his peers. Lest I forget, he was the Kwara State commissioner for Information, Culture, Sports and Youth in 1999.
May the soul of my classmate, friend, brother and my family’s ‘BIG Daddy’, the quadruple chief, find eternal rest, as we commiserate with his family, friends and the Olomu-in-council, as well as the Omu aran community over the loss of their illustrious son, Eesa Adebayo. CIAO!!! As you always said to friends.
Segun Olanipekun, a professor of journalism, wrote from the USA.
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